The 5th Piedmont Polar Plunge will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 6 at the Piedmont Aquatic Center. The plunge benefits Venecia’s Foundation, which provides comfort bags and gas cards for those taking treatment for cancer.
Venecia Benefield Butler knew all about those treatments. She had many herself before she lost her life to cancer. That’s why she started the foundation. She knew those important items in the comfort bags help make treatments a little less difficult. Plus, driving back and forth to treatment centers can be expensive; that’s where the gas cards come in handy.
Butler went into the water every year, even though she wasn’t up to it. She, her sister Randa Carroll and Mayor Bill Baker were the first ones in. Since her death, Carroll and Baker are the leaders.
At the last plunge she attended, she was going through treatment and didn’t come until the last minute because she couldn’t stand the cold. But she did come and did went in the water.
“She wouldn’t have had it any other way,” Carroll said.
Baker plans to take a cold dip again this year. He’s currently fighting an ear infection, but he’s hoping to be better by the day of the plunge.
“It’s a lot of crazy fun for a very worthwhile cause,” he said. “Good Lord willing and I get over the middle ear infection, I’ll be plunging again for the fifth straight year. Regardless of the year, I will be in the water, at least neck dep.”
The mayor suggests that those who don’t want to enter the frigid water to attend, watch others do so and donate to the fund.
This year Carroll suggests that people encourage each others to plunge by challenging them to do so. Perhaps by paying for others to take that cold dip would lead to them agreeing to do it, Carroll said.
County Commissioner Lee Patterson of Jacksonville went into the pool last year. He told a reporter afterward that when he goes to Piedmont, he sees a lot of community spirit and notices how everyone pitches in.
“To raise money for this cause, it’s a wonderful thing,” he said.